I started this thread about retirement housing when I wrote a post a few weeks ago on a very upmarket scheme in London. Following that I wrote about the key issues that are driving the future of this market (you can see my earlier posts by clicking on “Retirement Housing” in the Topics list).
This is my second in-depth look at one of the major providers in the retirement housing sector:-
McCarthy & Stone
This organisation has been the private sector market leader in retirement housing for many years. They were the first house-builder to move into the sheltered housing sector over 40 years ago. What is somewhat surprising is that their market offer has hardly changed in all that time and is still essentially selling the same product. They now have sub-divided their products into three basic divisions. “Retirement Living” which seems to be their original offer and is still the majority of their schemes. Secondly “Assisted Living” which is an enhanced offer which provides some degree of support. Finally, what seems to be a re-branded model obscurely referred to as “Ortus Homes”, which although it’s claimed to be a pioneering concept, seems only to be a stripped down version of their original sheltered housing model.
Their website is very substantial which you would expect from such a large organisation. They provide a lot of the information you might need to consider purchasing one of their properties, but you do have to be fairly adept at searching the website to find it. Here are some of the key facts drawn from their website:-
- Their schemes are provided over a wide area of the UK although annoyingly you can’t find a map showing you where they are all located. The retirement living schemes and the new Ortus projects are typically between 20 and 40 units. The assisted living units, which are similar to Category II sheltered housing tend to be around 50-60 units.
- Communal facilities in the retirement living schemes are fairly basic but generally have a communal lounge and a guest room. The assisted living projects would also include a restaurant and lounge areas. The Ortus Homes projects seem to have taken out all these communal facilities and only offer a basic independent living option which to me appears to be a backward step.
- Individual properties are generally a mixture of one and two-bedroom apartments. Strangely although they provide individual plans and room sizes, there’s no reference to the overall size of the flats. I suspect that the earlier retirement living accommodation and possibly also the assisted living flats are quite small. No doubt the new Ortus Homes which are described as luxury “right sized accommodation” are significantly larger.
- Purchase prices vary with each scheme location and when they were built. Here are some of the one and two-bedroom apartments currently available:-
- Wolverhampton – one bed £160k to £200k Retirement Living
- – two bed £240k to £255k Retirement Living
- Ashby – one bed £170k to £200k Retirement Living
- – two bed £245k to £260k Retirement Living
- Swindon – one bed £205k Retirement Living
- – two bed £301k Retirement Living
- Leicester – one bed £200k to £211k Retirement Living
- – two bed £281k to £286k Retirement Living
- Leicester – one bed £143k to £163k Assisted Living
- – two bed £238k to £288k Assisted Living
- Nottingham – one bed £227k to £300k Assisted Living
- – two bed £278k to £481k Assisted Living
- Harrogate – one bed £264k to £274k Ortus Luxury Homes
- Swanage – one bed £350k to £400k Ortus Luxury Homes
- – two bed £421k to £526k Ortus Luxury Homes
- Buckinghamshire – two bed £575k to £595k Ortus Luxury Homes
- Essex – two bed £620k Ortus Luxury Homes
- Hampshire – two bed £380k to £650k Ortus Luxury Homes
- Poole – two bed £595k to £769k Ortus Luxury Homes
- – three bed £1,425k Ortus Luxury Homes
In addition you pay an annual ground rent of circa £500. They also have a 1% of capital charge on resale plus a small sales admin fee of £324.
- Service charges vary from scheme to scheme but seem to average around £200 per month. One hour of domestic support is provided within the service charge for assisted living. You may also pay an extra charge for a parking space.
- Domiciliary Care and Support. A firm called YourLife provides care and support in the assisted living schemes. It is provided on an individual basis but there’s no indication on the website as to how much these charges are likely to be.
Overall McCarthy and Stone still seem to be trading on their historical market leader position. Their new brand of Ortus Homes seems to have abandoned any pretension of providing of any degree of communal living so I’m rather confused as to how this accommodation can in any way be described as pioneering in terms of retirement housing. What is obvious is the intention to move upmarket with better located sites in terms of “sea views” and presumably, but not clearly, larger size accommodation.
These guys have long become followers not the market leaders they once were.
I maybe doing them a disservice so I will endeavour to go and see some of their newer schemes in the next few months and I will report back after that.